Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Cheryl and Ethan Enroll in Subaru Auto-anonymous.


( Dimly lit smoke filled room)
"Hello,  I'm Ethan.  And this is Cheryl.   And we own a Subaru....It's been 4 months since our last Subaru Repair."

( Unseen monotone crowd voices)   "Hello Ethan and Cheryl!"

We got the Silver Bullet back today....and the cause of all that mess was a cracked fuel pump.  The remedy?   Lots and lots of money!




But isn't that how it always goes with any car?   I was happy that the fix would be so simple....But when they took it apart, the fuel pump assembly was also cracked and probably was the cause of the issue to begin with.   So take the first quote and double it.  What was I doing to do?   I knew I couldn't fix it.

   The fuel pump of all things.   For several previous cars, I have had similar issues with low power and shuddering.   I always thought it was a fuel pump issue and it never was.   But Finally!   I now know exactly what a faulty fuel pump feels like.  ( Exactly like all those other issues....Spark plugs, rotors, distributors...etc.)  Bottom line...Subie is back up and running and we can now give back that awful Volkswagen.  I should not be so hard on the car...it can't help how it was designed.   It certainly had pep and was "fun" to drive....but I'm VERY happy to have my Subaru back.


Which brings me up to the topic of an AA meeting....for Subaru owners.   As much as I gush over this brand of car....I imagine I look quite silly with it breaking all the time.   Cheryl was doing research and found that there are forums filled with similar stories and "Deal Breakers" or "Fatal Catastrophes" that force Subie owners to give up the ham.  Only to buy another Subaru.  Like a battered wife that continues to go back.... Why?   How can I deal with the embarrassment?

Upon doing a little math,   we discovered that we put a serious number of miles on our car here in Iowa.  Probably three times more than we did in Michigan.  When you link up the repairs with the mileage...you see that Subaru is actually quite reliable.  And they closely match other Subaru Owners' experiences.    And after driving loaner vehicles that are either uncomfortable, ugly, or just plain strange....I now know that my love for the Subaru is more than "just a car that gets me there."   There is comfort, familiarity, and a simply enjoyable driving experience to  take into consideration.

As cars become more tech based and less mechanical,  I see a day when I will no longer have the skills  or tools to do the work myself.   I read that the 2016 Subarus are even more computerized.  with "smart driver assists".   Maybe there will come a day when  we won't even be able to change tires by ourselves!    But I know that the when ever that day comes...I will most likely be driving a Subaru.  Yes!  I own a Subaru...and I may never break the addiction.  I just have to keep telling myself ,"One day at a time.  One day at a time..."  Thank you.

(Weak quiet  applause)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Adventures with Ethan And Cheryl And Silver Bullet Subie

Goodness!   What a day.   I would describe an adventure as when you are in a situation that is exciting, dangerous, scary, and the ending of said adventure is always in doubt!   That is where Cheryl and I found ourselves in...yet again.

The plan was simple:  Limp Subie to the mechanic and get him fixed.   I managed to get him home from Iowa City two days ago... I should be able to get him back there in a similar fashion.

Well,   Subie's condition did not change.   I managed to get it started, and we managed to get it moving.   He was sluggish with the acceleration, but at times, managed to get to 60 MPH.

The problem was the hills.   Cheryl noted the rather steep hill at Cosgrove Rd.  For a brief moment, I actually thought I could take it.  I wanted to avoid the "busy" road of Hyw 1,  so I really wanted to stay to the back farm roads.   But....

Subie never made it up that hill.  He did not stall, mind you.   He simply refused to climb.   I have no clue what was going on.  So...off to plan B.
Somehow,  the busy roads were more forgiving than I thought. We nearly had to push him through the final intersection before the auto shop, but Subie managed it on his own.   Yeah!
That being said,  I was not eager to have to go through that again!   The Auto place was booked up for the day and the guy said he might be able to see it last thing.....  Subie was staying the night.

Fortunately for us,  the guy loaned us his Volkswagen Bug.   It is a manual, so I was excited to give it a go.   It as been a while since Misty Dawn Subie died, and I have not had the opportunity to drive a stick since then.
Volkswagen Shifter.  Really?

German Engineering!   Is not everything people think it is.  And let me simply say that I will stick with my Subaru.  I remember hearing a car critic say that everything in a Subaru simply "makes sense!"   It's true!   Everything is right where you think it should be.  But not so in a Volkswagen.

Makes more sense!

I was having trouble with the shifter.   I thought it was unusual that the reverse was so close to first gear.   Not wanting to accidentally slip it in reverse,  I found the far left gear and slid over one.  Only problem with that is....that was third gear!
I vaguely remember watching a youtube video where they mentioned this.   I thought,"So what?   What's the big deal?"   And then it happened to me.    Thankfully I did not burn out the clutch trying to get the car rolling from third gear.  
Still,  I had to back out of the parking space from HyVee.   I simply tried every gear and still could not find Reverse!   Because Reverse.....is directly UNDER FIRST GEAR!  You have to push down...( something not even hinted at anywhere on the stick!)  and then slip it into first gear...waiting for the R gear to catch.  Very strange and annoying....
After figuring that out, I was able to shift things normally,   But WOW!   Way to make your first time Volkswagen users feel and look stupid! I don't like a car that is so elitist that I can't figure out how to start or shift it simply by using common sense.

Other than that,  Cheryl ran 13.5 miles today.   What else could we do?   Our car is sick, our cat is injured,  our bank account continues to dwindle over things we have no control over.  What better way to run out the demons than to run...run far.... run long.


Eagle one
Flock of Deer run across the trail

We were blessed with some wildlife sightings today.  Eagles and deer abound!   Trying to capture either of them is still a challenge with the Smart phone.  But it is still better than the old Nikon.
Behind the lovely bush...



The ONLY one with leaves still attached. 

On the way back,  Eagle gained a friend.
At least the ice is gone!   And now we have the entire day to relax and wait for the verdict on Subie.  Will it be an O2  sensor?   Replaced Throttle Cable?   Or Crankshaft Control Sensor....Or something worse?   We brace for impact....


Monday, January 16, 2017

The Ice Storm Arrives!

Ice coats the landscape
Neighbor had to walk in the grass
What a great day to stay home.   It's almost like Subie was looking out for us to NOT go out this morning.  Even a Subaru has its limits when traveling on sheer ice.   Not to mention the tires need to be replaced yet and we simply have to had the time to get to it.   Makes me wonder how anyone with a job can do anything after work.
Subie would not want to go out in this...


Total coverage!
Speaking of jobs,  our neighbor had to go out in this crappy weather. It was so slippery,  she had to walk in the grass to make it to her car.   (  we currently lack salt for the sidewalk,  which was a sheet of glass!)  It reminds me of the days when I had to brave "less than optimum" weather to get to work on time.   I remember traveling down the highway watching other cars skid by me, only to end up in the ditch.   I would tell myself I would rather be an hour late and have to listen to a lecture, than spend 50 bucks on a towing bill....and still arrive late.  Ah, the joys of having a job.


We decide to walk to Casey's for coffee and donuts.
The good news is that the ice makes for some very pretty pictures outside.   I always liked looking at the ice as it coats the trees.... as long as I did not have to walk and slip down some sidewalk.


The ice makes a cool crunching sound when you walk on the grass.  The temps are currently falling and it has continued to rain all day.  I'm hoping that the salt trucks clear things up and the ice does not form up again for tomorrow.  Fingers crossed!

It makes the trees look like they are dipped in sugar.
Laundry room painted!
And finally, I was able to paint the laundry area and under the stairs.   Small areas with a bunch of junk in them.   Lucky for me, they did not take very long to paint, and I did not have to obsess over things like trim or corners.  The banister and baseboard is all that remains.  I may have to wait a few days before I get to those though.  They will require a bit more planning and time.  Tomorrow we are going to try to get Subie fixed and back up to par.

Hope everyone else is surviving the ice storm...if you live around here anyway.   If not,  maybe you can share some of that sunshine and warmer temps with us.  Share the love!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Did You Actually Think You Were In Control?

It eventually takes it all back.
Just when you think you have a grasp on the game....   When you think you can handle or are handling life's curve-balls with a certain level of  competence;  life reminds you how insignificant your efforts truly are.  Allow me to extrapolate.

So,  it is a nice day.  No ice storm yet, and the winds and temps are holding to comfortable levels.  It was a great morning to squeeze in a run before the storm.  


Cheryl ran through the woods and up the hills.   A shorter route, but hilly and challenging.  Sometimes a little change from the usual routine is a good thing.

While on the run,  we discuss our plans to travel to Boston for the Marathon.   We have ruled out the plane.... so it is down to train or bus.   We Briefly considered taking the car.  But Cheryl correctly, in my opinion,  listed all the things we would have to take into account and the time and costs that would not be immediately obvious.   Subie is old.  The distance is long.   Tolls!  Traffic.  Parking.  etc...

So,  to remind us and firmly assure us that Subie does not want to make that trip,   he decided to have an "episode."   At first there was a "starting issue".   Similar to a car that has been flooded.   This is not normal.   But he started up just fine after a few attempts.  But then his acceleration  was lacking.


After a quick moment of panic, it reminded me of several previous car issues.  My jeep, Gremlin, and Mazda all had similar feels to them.   Each one was different and both the Gremlin and Mazda were fatal!

check out the rusted cable...
So it could be anything!  Fuel pump, Spark plugs, Distributor,  O2 sensor, who knows?  My personal guess is it may have something to do with the cables that lead to the fuel pump. One of the cables has cracked and rusted through.   Still,  looks like a trip to the mechanic.
He's so proud....



He "thinks" he's made it better.
When we arrived home,   The cat had shucked off his cone and groomed his wound.   Goodbye Scab!  After a week of diligently guarding that area and allowing it to heal and close up,  Hiro undoes it all with that Sandpaper tongue!    I'm sure he thinks he has done us a service by cleaning up the matted fur and ugly scab.  But now the wound is open again!   Cheryl seems more freaked out about that than the car.   Everyone has their priorities, I guess.
So clean and sparkly,  but now Exposed 

Ah well.  Kids will be kids; cars will be cars; and cats will be cats. What can we mere mortals do about it other than limit the damage and pay for the broken bones.

Hope everyone else is having a fun weekend.   I hear it is a Holiday....MLK day I think.   And the Ice storm is supposed to hit later today.   So we shall most likely stay home and try not to breathe too much air.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Saturday Chill Time. With Six Stockings

How fast before Ethan hits the Floor?
I finished up the majority of the work painting the hallway.  I didn't really use the ladder that the Landlords provided because it simply was not the right type or tall enough.   I really needed something that would lean against the wall.   Ah well,   I still managed to get stuff painted; although I would have liked to have been able to go around the top most trim without dripping paint on it.

Putting the handrail back on. 
I finished putting up the hand rail and light switches.  All that is left now is the area under the stairs and the laundry section.  I'll see if I can finish that next week.

Almost completely closed.
Hiro is feeling better and his open gash is finally closing.  Most of his medication has been used up and now we simply have to run out the clock on his antibiotics.  The bad news is that he will have to continue to wear his fashionable collar until it has fully scabbed over.   With a little luck,  he will be able to remove it by the next weekend.
Hiro sporting his favorite collar.

He seems to be handling it better than imagined.   He bumps into things and has some trouble trying to jump up on the couch.  But, for the most part, he is able to eat, drink and use the litter box without any problems.
A few cuddles here and there 



This episode seems to have awakened a cuddly side of Hiro that even Cheryl has noticed.  Normally he is more aloof.  But lately,  he climbs on laps and sleeps cuddled up with us on the bed.  I could get used to that.
Ok, That's enough....


I should also note that we sold and completed 6 stockings today.  The "After Christmas" orders continue to trickle in and we have had something to do just about every day this year.  Thankfully the orders are small and we can knock them out rapidly.  After that Christmas Rush,   we are thankful for the break.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend.  Tomorrow, it is supposed to rain and then freeze.   A good day to hole up and hide out in sleepy little Wellman Iowa.  Stay warm!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Hiro's Check Up, Cheryl's Long Run, And Ethan's Hallway Painting....Update.

Cheryl and Hiro in matching outfits.
He looks quiet now,  Just wait...
 Yesterday was Hiro's vet visit to make sure he was not being killed by his owners.   Cheryl packed him up in the new matching travel case and off we went.  An unsedated cat is a BEAR to have in the car when you are traveling to the vet. ( I should say a broken record of nails on a chalk board.)   Hiro has never been much of a travel cat.... And I'm sure that his recent memory of the midnight vet visit is still fresh in his mind.  He voiced his protest  on volume 10 with hardly a breath in between....for the entire trip!
After the Vet, Hiro retires for the day! 


Sunny and warm still,  Let's run!
After arriving,  he shut up.   And we pretty well behaved.  The Vet got him current on his shots and made sure his wound was looking good.   Everything checked out and we were ready to head back home.


The warm-ish weather held out for us and we decided to fit in our long run at the Kewash Trail.   There are a few things to remember when running in warm-er weather that is above freezing.   That is:  the ground melts.


Looks like the bike needs a bath
Kind of muddy...
We were both feeling fatigued after our early vet visit, so we kept the run to 10 miles.   But that was plenty of time to get our "muddy"on.


Cheryl says I can't go inside like that.
Looks like I do too!
We were so muddy we decided to undress in the hallway so we would not track in all the caked-on dirt.  The clay in Iowa has such wonderful properties.... ( sarcasm)  The corn may like it, but anyone who enjoys a clean house probably does not.

And today,  I spent a little time trying to paint the hallway.  I was supposed to work on this on Monday,   But the cat and the Universe got in my way somehow.  Typical of all of my best laid plans.  Like that time I was going to be an astronaut....  (Why do people ask children what they want to be wen they grow up?   Just to laugh? )

The extension helps with the high stuff
Only one side for now.

I managed to make some headway.  I'll have to work on the other side later...and possibly break out the ladder for the high edges.  So far things look ok,  so I'm encouraged.

Hiro's wound: Looks bad, but is better.
Hope everyone is staying warm.   The temps have dropped almost 20 degrees from yesterday.   The good news is that the ground is frozen once again.  It matters not, since my bike is still covered in mud from before.  The vet says we can take our Cat care down a notch now and let the cat take over.   Good news because the constant attention was wearing both of us down.  It's about time the Cat's natural healing process kicks in.

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